Another Soapy Bearbox guest post today and its another review :D. This time we look at Zombicide! So a big thank you to Dave (aka twitter chap @Comaboy_77) for taking the time to have a go.
Walkers and Fatties and Runners, oh my!
I’ve always like Zombies, well, killing zombies anyway in various different guises over the years, be it card games, Xbox games, iOS games, dice games or horror movies. So when I emerged from the rock I had been living under to find I had completely missed CoolMiniOrNot’s Kickstarter for Zombicide (but at least you are not a KS addict, right? – doc) I was somewhat annoyed.
Unperturbed, I went out and bought the game from a shop (which was a novelty).
If you were one of the unfortunates who didn’t get involved with the Kickstarter, what do you get for your £69.99.
As a lover of board games I have a large stack of games with plastic figures and tokens of varying quality. Some are just plain horrible, they are thin weak bendy plastic that you can never straighten (StarCraft: The Board Game I’m looking at you!). Zombicide is not like this. The first time I took the 71 miniatures out of the box I was impressed, they feel solid and are nicely detailed; I often chuck handfuls of zombies around as they are chain sawed to death and never worry about breakages or damage to the models.
The only complaint I have is differentiating between the 2 most common types of zombies: the Runners and the Walkers. In the late stages of the game when you have 30+ zombies on the board and they are all the same colour, it’s not immediately obvious which ones are which in a group, a different colour would have been good just to make them stand out.
The tokens, floor tiles, Survivor sheets and cards are all nicely printed, of good quality and even after a dozen games are still holding up well. It’s a little fiddly juggling equipment cards and the experience tracker once you have 3 or more pieces of equipment, but it works. What’s really nice is that all of the survivor sheets are available in a free, interactive iPad app where you can track damage, experience and equipment (clever work there – doc).
The app works really nicely but it’s a bit of a pain trading equipment if you have some players using the cards and some using the app.
The rule book is clear, concise and nicely written, it’s quick and easy to find what you need and there is a FAQ on the Zombicide website to clear up most issues. There are 10 missions in the book which give you a variety of objectives to try to complete and at the time of me writing this, 34 more on the website. As I am sure you can imagine, this equates to many hours of zombie killing goodness!
The game itself is easy to play and the rules are relatively simple. The only added complexity are the scenario’s themselves, which range from 30-45 minutes of just trying to escape the board, to 2-3 hours of having to collect objectives and transport them to 2 cars and then drive them (yes you can drive the cars and run Zombies over! (Carmageddon anyone?-doc) to the exit.
Each survivor has 3 actions to start with, these can be used to move, shoot, make melee attacks, search for equipment, open doors or activate objectives. As a survivor kills zombies they level up and gain more actions and skills.
But here’s where Zombicide has a catch: the number and strength of the zombies that spawn each turn is directly related to the highest level survivor in the group. If one person runs around getting all the experience and everyone else is still stuck at level 1, then you are really going to struggle as you get swarmed by hoards of powerful zombies. The game doesn’t just encourage co-operation, it requires it in order to complete some of the harder missions.
When you attack, your range, damage and the number of dice you roll to hit are based on what equipment you are using.The weapons vary from frying pans to Chainsaws, and Pistols to Uzi’s. Other equipment you discover might protect you from damage, allow you to re-roll misses with certain types of weapons or need to be collected for a specific scenario objective.
Dual wielding a pair of uzi’s is great fun and deadly against a large group zombies, but my personal favourite is the Chainsaw, it has some skills that give you extra dice or improve your ability to hit in melee; this weapon is just plain awesome!
Zombies come in 4 flavours: Walkers, Runners, Fatties and Abomination’s. Walkers are your stereotypical slow-moving zombies that have 1 action per turn and are killed with any weapon in the game; these are only a problem in large numbers. The runners are the same as the walkers but have 2 actions per turn, making them particularly nasty if you draw the “Runners get another go” card. Fatties only have 1 action but can only be removed from the game by weapons that do 2 points of damage; these also always spawn with 2 walkers. Finally, we have the Abomination which can only be killed by weapons that do 3 points of damage or Molotov cocktails. Luckily Abominations are quite rare!
A typical turn of Zombicide might be a survivor using 1 action to move in to a building, an action to search and then their third action to shoot the Walker in the room next door. Their pistol gives them 1 die that hits on 4’s, if they hit it will do 1 point of damage removing the zombie. If they fail and all other survivors have moved then it’s the Zombies turn. The walker will spend its 1 action moving towards the nearest survivor it can see, or the survivor that’s made the most noise. If the walker started its turn in the same zone as a survivor it would automatically inflict 1 point of damage to a survivor in the zone. If there is more than 1 survivor in the zone then the players decide amongst themselves who gets the damage which can lead to arguments! Once all zombies have moved then you draw a zombie card for each spawn point on the board, places the new zombies and go on to the next turn.
In terms of gameplay I only really have one complaint with Zombicide: So far in the dozen or so games I’ve played, I’ve yet to fail a mission.
Some have been a close call but so far every single one has ended in victory. I’ve played 2 player, 3 player and even 5 players games against missions of all difficulties and have completed them all. Now, myself and the group I play with may just be exceptionally lucky, but to me the game does feel a little easy. This of course could be resolved with harder scenarios, and there may well be some out there that are more challenging, but for me there is nothing I like more than a game that is really hard and may take me a couple of attempts to beat.
Zombicide is still a great game though and even 2 months after buying it I still love playing it. With the fantastic support from CoolMiniOrNot and Guillotine Games with extra scenarios and characters and 2 new expansions coming out later this year it promises to keep me coming back for a long time to come.
Here’s to the on-going slaughter of the undead…..
Thanks again to Dom for this review, I am terrified already of the Butcher 😉